Next to my desk is a small basket stuffed with bookmarks, eyeglasses, stamps, a few papers and my business license. While digging for a stamp, my sixth-grade autograph book surfaced. I’d placed it in that basket temporarily one afternoon during one of my regular ‘cleaning out’ rituals to consider its permanent placement. I smiled, took a deep breath, eased myself into my desk chair and opened the green faux alligator cover. The memories of ten-year-old me in my sixth-grade class revived the mixed childhood feelings of vulnerability and discovery, insecurity and wonder along with the anxiety and anticipation of entering junior high school.

My father penned the first entry. His handwriting and his words filled me with gratitude for the love and stability my family dispensed. “To my very darling daughter, You have many ambitions to be accomplished in your life. These will be done as you have all of the ability, intelligence and vigor to accomplish them. With love, to you from your Father.”

I pictured my friends and classmates as I read their inscriptions. Life progressed predictably during those years. Meals united us daily around the yellow Formica kitchen table with matching vinyl chairs. Assigned chores created a sense of value working for the common good of the family, though sometimes reluctantly. Piano practice and ballet lessons punctuated our routine as did Sunday drives to surprise destinations.

So much has shifted as I look back. Accelerated change and unpredictable times eclipse those secure moments. My models of stability, structure, security and love from childhood are gone. The role of guide, anchor and comforter has passed to me. This small autograph book reminds me to be in gratitude for the gifts I received and to model encouragement, acceptance and vulnerability for the next generation. Love guides us to look through the eyes of spirit to our infinite potential. That’s where magic dwells.